Kashmiri Pandits well settled outside, time to move on, says Bollywood actor Bhat

Bats for withdrawal of army from public places

Kashmir-born actor Rahul Bhat, who will be seen in the upcoming Bollywood romantic flick ‘Fitoor’, Monday said Army should be withdrawn from public places in the Valley.

Addressing media persons at Nigeen Club here, he said: “Kashmir is peaceful and beautiful. I don’t see any signs or symbols that would make a person feel he is in a conflict zone. But presence of Army at various places gives you that sense,” he said, adding, “Army should be withdrawn from public places in the valley.”
A native of Vichar-Nag Soura here, Bhat has spent 12 years of his childhood in Kashmir before moving to Mumbai.
“Muslims in Kashmir have suffered more than Kashmiri Pandits. Kashmiri Pandits are well settled in other states and are living a good life. I don’t think they need or would like to return to the valley. However, in case they return, I am sure locals here are eager and ready to embrace them with love, dignity and honour,” he said, in response to a query.
“I am a Kashmiri Pandit settled in Mumbai and doing my business. How can I leave that business there and settle here. So, to appeal Kashmiri Pandits on daily basis to return to their roots is a futile exercise and it is time to move on,” he said.
He said he was overwhelmed by the response and love showered by his people when he visited his ancestral home at Soura. “I turned so emotional and I cried when Kashmiri Muslims hugged and embraced me. So what I am a Kashmiri Pandit, I must admit that Muslims in Kashmir suffered heavily than Kashmiri Pandits. They suffered all these years more than any community in the State did and the biggest tragedy that tore them apart was the September 2014 deluge,” he said.
He criticized the State Government for its inaction towards the flood victims. “The Government provided meager amount to the flood victims that they spent on clearing the debris only. Youth and NGOs in Kashmir did a wonderful job and helped the sufferers,” he said.
He said Kashmiri youth are talented but “lack of infrastructure and opportunities”. “In my movie, I have a role for a Kashmiri singer Ajaz Rah who is very talented and I believe that youth here have a potential that needs to be harnessed,” he said, and urged the State Government to “upgrade and give a new lease of life to the dying Cultural Academy.”
Bhat said he is mulling to launch a Cricket Club in Kashmir for talented cricketers.

‘Fitoor’ is not only the first Bollywood movie to be shot in Kashmir after the last year’s floods, it is also the first to be shot in the Valley this year.
‘Fitoor’ is an adaptation of Charles Dicken’s ‘Great Expectations’ which will see Aditya, Rekha and Katrina essaying the roles of (Noor) Pip, (Begum) Miss Havisham and (Firdaus) Estella, respectively.